Texas County welcomes new Ag Educator

Photo By Marie Lasater
Eric Meusch, Texas County’s newly hired Ag Educator, discusses pond management on a local farm.

By Marie Lasater

  Texas County’s riches lie in agriculture. Whether it be beef or dairy cows, grassland farming and hay production, crops, poultry and eggs, well-stocked ponds, goats, sheep or swine, or a variety of home-based businesses based on specialties such as beekeeping, jam and jelly making, home-made soaps, wildcrafting and harvesting medicinal plants, Texas County is rich in natural resources.
  Like the state it is named for, Texas County is cow country. As of one year ago, it was home to 45,500 beef cattle and 3,100 dairy cows with 80,000 cows total, including calves, with cows outnumbering people by a 3 to 1 ratio.
  In order to succeed in an agriculturally based economy, things have to be done at the right time, in the right way. Knowledge is passed on from generation to generation, with new processes incorporated as technology grows. Programs like 4-H and FFA are robust in Texas County, and our high school agriculture teachers can be credited for their role in developing our youth and ensuring that the farming tradition continues. In order to bolster current programs, and to ensure agriculture in our county remains robust, a newly created position of Agriculture Educator has been funded and filled.
  Commissioner John Casey first recognized the need for an Agriculture Educator dedicated to Texas County, and for the past year has been working toward that goal. On November 9, Casey’s dream became a reality with the hiring of Eric Meusch via a partnership with the University of Missouri Extension Office and the Texas County Commission.
  Meusch is no stranger to Texas County. His parents are from Houston, and he has fond memories from the 1970’s that reflect trail riding, hunting and fishing on his grandparents’ place that felt like his second home. Attending Westminster College, Meusch majored in veterinary science as an undergrad, but switched his major while keeping an emphasis on biology, a move that led him to the fisheries area. He joined the Peace Corp in 1990, and was sent to Thailand, doing hands-on work in the local farming systems, working with small government-owned and private warm water fish hatcheries. Typical fish hatcheries in Southeast Asia raise tilapia, carp and a type of catfish called pangasius, that is imported to the United States from Vietnam. Ultimately spending 20 years in Southeast Asia, Meusch went on to conduct research in Laos while completing graduate school at Auburn University, and that is where he met his wife.
  Not just a fishery expert, Meusch is well-versed in forage and livestock grazing, farm pond management, beekeeping, produce and gardening, grassland farming, and animal husbandry, including not just horses and cows but goats, chickens and small ruminants. He sums up his background as all related to farming systems, growing food, and making a living while maintaining the quality of the environment. Meusch also serves on the Soil and Water Conservation District Board.
  Like many folks in Texas County, Meusch is dedicated to making a living from agriculture and helping others to do the same. He has spent the past several years on his farm located between Rolla and Salem, giving him firsthand knowledge of a small-scale farm-based business.
  Meusch works out of the University of Missouri Extension office located at 114 West Main Street in Houston. Phone 417-967-4545. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. Among the services available are soil sample testing ($17), analysis of hay and forage ($25), and no charge consultations for your agricultural concerns ranging from cattle management to plant identification.

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